The global displacement figures

The global displacement figures

Esake, 27, is troubled because she has not eaten food for the last 24 hours. She has run out of money yet she has not yet been registered as a refugee after she fled DR Congo across Lake Albert into Uganda. Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC Esake, 27, is troubled because she has not eaten food for the last 24 hours. She has run out of money yet she has not yet been registered as a refugee after she fled DR Congo across Lake Albert into Uganda. Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC

Esake, 27, is troubled because she has not eaten food for the last 24 hours. She has run out of money yet she has not yet been registered as a refugee after she fled DR Congo across Lake Albert into Uganda. Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC

Esake, 27, is troubled because she has not eaten food for the last 24 hours. She has run out of money yet she has not yet been registered as a refugee after she fled DR Congo across Lake Albert into Uganda. Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC

As we entered 2018,

68,500,000

people were displaced from persecution and armed conflict. That's 2.9 million more than the year before. This is the sixth consecutive year where the overall number of displaced people in the world has increased.


Yet again, the scope of displacement and subsequent humanitarian crises is at an all-time high. In a global perspective, the development in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East are the most worrying.

Turkey, Bangladesh, Uganda and Sudan have received the highest numbers of new refugees in 2017. Most new refugees fled from South-Sudan, Syria, Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). Syria, DR Congo, Iraq and South Sudan had the highest numbers of new internally displaced people in 2017.

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. An internally displaced person has been forced to flee within their home country.

The majority of the world's displaced people reside in their homelands or in neighbouring countries as poor as the countries they left. The largest number of returns in 2017 were to countries still plagued by armed conflict or unsolved humanitarian crises. In countries like Afghanistan, Nigeria and Somalia, people who try to return home are often forced to flee again.

Displacement numbers in Africa continue to rise

The Katanika camp is located outside of Kalemie, DR Congo, and houses about 70,000 people who have fled from the violence in the country. Photo: Christian Jepsen/NRC The Katanika camp is located outside of Kalemie, DR Congo, and houses about 70,000 people who have fled from the violence in the country. Photo: Christian Jepsen/NRC

The Katanika camp is located outside of Kalemie, DR Congo, and houses about 70,000 people who have fled from the violence in the country. Photo: Christian Jepsen/NRC

The Katanika camp is located outside of Kalemie, DR Congo, and houses about 70,000 people who have fled from the violence in the country. Photo: Christian Jepsen/NRC

In 2017, 2.3 million people were forced to flee within DR Congo or leave the country altogether. In October 2017, the UN activated a level 3 crisis – the highest level on their scale – in parts of DR Congo. Despite this, international donors contributed little more than half of the money required to cover the humanitarian needs in the country.

We also saw a considerable increase in the number of both refugees and internally displaced people in Africa. 5.5 million people were forced to flee inside their own country due to conflict and violence in 2017 alone; that’s double the number from 2016. A further 1.5 million Africans had to flee their country entirely last year.

Five African countries topped the Norwegian Refugee Council's (NRC) list of the world's most neglected displacement crises in 2018. Millions of displaced people reside in some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable countries. Not only does this have enormous humanitarian ramifications, it also slows down development in entire regions, such as in the Great Lakes, on the Horn of Africa, and in Sahel.

Deadlocked situation in the Middle East

Debaga camp for internaly displaced in Iraq.

Debaga camp for internaly displaced in Iraq.

The negative development we saw in the Middle East in 2017 has continued into 2018. 4.5 million people were internally displaced in the region in 2017, and the number of refugees is still very high.

The Syrian conflict has now lasted two years longer than the second world war. Many have lost their lives in besieged areas because aid organisations have been denied entry by the warring parties. In some places, aid is let through, but civilians have not been afforded protection from fighting.

In Iraq, millions are displaced within their own country, unable to return home. Those who have returned often lack access to health care, education and water. In war-torn Yemen, 22 million people need humanitarian aid. It is now crucial that political deals are made to end the blockade and the war.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is more deadlocked than ever, and a political solution seems far away. On the Gaza Strip, the population has experienced three wars and lived under a blockade for eleven years. The situation is untenable. A new study by NRC finds that six out of ten Palestinian children on the Gaza Strip experience traumatic nightmares.

Forced to flee by violence in Latin America

Two women line up for free food at a soup kitchen in Los Teques, Venezuela. Photo: Meridith Kohut/The New York Times/NTB Scanpix Two women line up for free food at a soup kitchen in Los Teques, Venezuela. Photo: Meridith Kohut/The New York Times/NTB Scanpix

Two women line up for free food at a soup kitchen in Los Teques, Venezuela. Photo: Meridith Kohut/The New York Times/NTB Scanpix

Two women line up for free food at a soup kitchen in Los Teques, Venezuela. Photo: Meridith Kohut/The New York Times/NTB Scanpix

In Central America, organised crime and violence are causing widespread displacement in several countries. This has mainly affected El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, but there is a chance that the violence can spread further. In addition to the human suffering, the economy has also been adversely affected. We need political action to thwart the root causes of the violence and the emergence of organised crime.

Last year’s silver lining – the peace process in Colombia – is also in trouble. The right wing candidate Iván Duque won the presidential election in June 2018 with 54 per cent of the votes. He has been a strong critic of the peace agreement with the guerrilla group FARC and has demanded it be renegotiated. The polarised election campaign is a sign that the Colombian population is still deeply divided.

An anti-gang police unit searches young men for weapons, or tattoos identifying them as members of a gang, in San Salvador, El Salvador. Photo: Tomas Munita/The New York Times/NTB Scanpix

An anti-gang police unit searches young men for weapons, or tattoos identifying them as members of a gang, in San Salvador, El Salvador. Photo: Tomas Munita/The New York Times/NTB Scanpix

Europe and the US are closing the door on refugees

Refugees warm themselves by a fire at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), near Idomeni, northern Greece, 10 March 2016. Photo: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA/NTB Scanpix Refugees warm themselves by a fire at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), near Idomeni, northern Greece, 10 March 2016. Photo: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA/NTB Scanpix

Refugees warm themselves by a fire at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), near Idomeni, northern Greece, 10 March 2016. Photo: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA/NTB Scanpix

Refugees warm themselves by a fire at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), near Idomeni, northern Greece, 10 March 2016. Photo: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA/NTB Scanpix

The agreement between the EU and Turkey has halted the flow of refugees and migrants to Greece. In 2017, less than 30,000 people arrived via the eastern Mediterranean route. In comparison, more than 850,000 crossed via that route in 2015. The number of refugees and migrants travelling from Libya to Italy also decreased drastically. This is due to a deal Italy made with the Libyan government and groups controlling parts of Libya in the summer of 2017. Germany and France have received a considerable number of refugees from North Africa, but many rich countries refuse to share the burden. Reluctance to receive refugees is especially great in Eastern Europe, Japan and in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

The US has also become more restrictive. In 2016, Barack Obama's last year as president, the US received 97,000 resettlement refugees. In 2017, only 33,000 resettlement refugees were taken in by the US, and it looks like we'll see even lower numbers in 2018.

Great need remain unmet

Photographers help a Rohingya refugee to come out of Naf River as they cross the Myanmar-Bangladesh border in Palong Khali, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, in November 2017. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters/NTB Scanpix

Photographers help a Rohingya refugee to come out of Naf River as they cross the Myanmar-Bangladesh border in Palong Khali, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, in November 2017. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters/NTB Scanpix

While politicians in the wealthy part of the world keep changing their minds to suit their electorates, the crises in conflict areas are escalating. There is an unacceptable gap between the actual humanitarian needs and the funds contributed by the international community. Over the last four years, on average 60 per cent of the appeals for funding were met. This is in stark contrast to the 72 per cent met ten years ago, between 2007 and 2009.

Both national governments and the international community often fail to provide protection to the victims of conflict. Being a refugee is especially difficult for women, children, and other vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with disabilities. Civilians are also increasingly affected by organised criminal networks that cynically take advantage of people in extremely vulnerable situations.

An increasing number of those suffering from a serious lack of food or hunger are residing in conflict- ridden countries. Conflict can directly affect food security through displacing farmers and fishermen, through the destruction of food stores and equipment, or indirectly through destruction of roads and markets.

The greatest challenge of 2018 will be to raise enough funds to cover the basic needs of the increasing number of displaced people in the world. The wealthy countries of the world need to take much more responsibility than we have seen up until now. Turning the negative trend of a steadily increasing number of people forced to flee must be prioritised by politicians, both internationally and in conflict areas.